It is with deep concern that the plan to amend article 102(b) of the 1995 Constitution to remove the 75 years age-limit for one to run for presidency is no longer diversionary or idle talk – as has been branded before. It is real.
Now that the Bill is reported to have been gazetted, it is official that Uganda is now hurtling towards establishing a life presidency.
Every word in defence of the removal of the age limit rings hollow; as all we know it is intended to safeguard just an individual in power. Not only is it wrong to legislate for a single individual, it places our fragile democratic path on the edge of a cliff. In fact, it borders on the personalization of not only the Constitution but also the state.
Limitations on the tenure and age were inserted in the 1995 Constitution to guarantee organized transition at Presidential level – especially given the history that Uganda has never enjoyed a smooth transition from one leader to another.
In 2005, Parliament unfortunately voted for the removal of one of those safe guards – presidential term limits. Twelve years later, there are already injudicious maneuvers to remove the age limit cap for presidential candidates. The timing of the amendment makes it clear that the spirit of the Bill is to allow for the possibility of Mr. Museveni who will be above 75 years to again run for presidency in 2021, when Uganda goes to the polls.
Should any forces carry-on with the machinations to amend article 102(b) of the Constitution, we, the citizens shall mount a firm and coherent opposition stance. We will not continue lamenting and crying betrayal at nonchalant compromises. We are going to act in very unprecedented ways. Citizens have been accused to bark without biting for far too long; this time, they will bite.
The battle line is drawn between the struggle for citizen-responsive democratic leadership and imperial life presidency.
We take matters that touch on our Constitution very seriously and as citizens we will deal with these political innuendos with the profound pressure and rigor required.
We remain extremely worried and concerned about the course of our country’s democratic path. Our worry and concern emboldened us more to stage a valiant fight for what is right against what is wrong.
As citizens, we will remain vigilant against the imperial and life presidency mindset that is seeking to drive from the corners. This tendency must be exposed and fought against. Moves to remove the upper limit of the presidential age cap are cynical and we will challenge them vigorously in all platforms.
Uganda has seen countless political coups. It is time to sacrifice anything and everything to stop another looming “constitutional coup” through organized and effective citizen democratic pressure. This time round, we must vehemently resist a reversal of the outcome of a very expensive and painful 1995 constitution-making process.
The energy to struggle against democratic reversals is palpable; the passion to contest elements that impede peaceful democratic leadership transition is profound.
Here’s the time for a new generation of principled leadership and citizenry to emerge!